Trump Administration Makes Refugees Pay “Full Fare” to Be Evacuated From Puerto Rico
Several Trump administration officials have now been reported to be using private luxury jets to fly around the country, and billing the government for it.
But today we learn that the Trump administration is requiring refugees to pay full fare to be evacuated from the island. And they plan to confiscate evacuees’ passports and hold them until they get their money.
“The Trump administration is making U.S. citizens pay ‘full fare’ to be evacuated from hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico,” according to a Marketplace report. “What’s worse, the U.S. government, in accordance with a long-standing but discretionary policy, will hold the evacuees’ passports as collateral until it gets its money.”
That discretionary State Department rule still has not been waived, more than one week after Hurricane Maria obliterated the island.
The administration is demanding is that if an evacuee is flown off the island with help of the government, be it a charter or military flight, the refugee must pay the equivalent of “the price of the last commercial one-way, full-fare (not discounted) economy ticket prior to the crisis.”
So even if a evacuee previously purchased a discount ticket for a flight that got canceled, and then received government transportation, the evacuee would still have to pay the higher “full-fare” price.
The evacuee first signs a promissory note before being flown off the island. “And that promissory note obligates an evacuated person to repay the cost of the transportation to the U.S. government” according to a State Department website. If there’s an issue with the payment, the government retains the passport.
State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert — formerly a co-host of Fox & Friends, Trump’s favorite TV show — says the MarketWatch report is wrong:
But this doesn’t answer the question of whether the evacuees are required to sign promissory notes by some other agency.